Unwind by Neal Shusterman – Book Review

Title: Unwind

Series: Unwind #1

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy, Survival, Adventure

Blurb from Goodreads

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker.

Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs.

Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth as part of his family’s strict religion.

Brought together by chance, and kept together through desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing all the while that their lives are hanging in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthdays, they can’t be harmed.

But when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away…

My Review


Holy crap yassssssssss!!!

This book was sooooo freaking compelling. The set up to this dystopian world is BRILLIANT and it all played out in page-turningly awesome fashion.

Imagine a world where the abortion debate led to war and the result of that war was the concept of unwinding. 

The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen.
However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively “abort” a child on the condition that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called “unwinding.” Unwinding is now a common, and accepted practice in society.

And so the book opens with Connor, a boy with a quick temper whose parents decide to unwind.

Risa, is a ward of the state. She doesn’t have any exceptional talents with which to warrant her keeping her place in the system due to budget constraints and so it’s determined that she will be unwound.

Lev is a tithe. It’s been his destiny to be unwound as part of his family’s religious beliefs.

And thusly this trio are brought together in the ultimate battle to stay alive. They flee into the underground system trying to hide, making both enemies and allies with other teens due to be unwound and what follows is a book that just kept me reading all day.

I couldn’t put this book down so hooked was I. Definitely one of my favourite YA dystopians in recent years…

But here’s the catch…

I don’t actually want to read any of the sequels.

I know… illogical right!!!

But the thing is this book is VERY trope heavy. It was an absolute blast to read for sure, but later experience with reading Neal Shusterman (I read Dry after I read this) has made me quite convinced that he is not an author for me.

Because when I read Dry I could see patterns with his writing style. He made almost carbon copy narrative choices and thusly reading Dry felt very stale.

So I don’t want to continue with this series because I am happy with with where this book finished. It was slightly open-ended and let my own imagination dream of what would happen these characters and their world. I feel that if I picked up the sequel I would again see those Shusterman narrative patterns that I am now jaded with. So while I loved this book and would recommend it to fans of good old fashioned YA dystopians, I do not think the sequels are for me.

A lukewarm recommendation

Other Works by Neal Shusterman I’ve Reviewed

  • Dry (with Jarrod Shusterman)

My Socials

18 thoughts on “Unwind by Neal Shusterman – Book Review

  1. I love Unwind as well! I’m intrigued by your comment on not reading the sequels. When I first read Unwind, it was a stand alone. I never expected follow up books. I’ve read them all but I also think it’s not a bad decision to decide not to pick them up… I also enjoyed Challenger Deep, Dry, and the Everlost books but I had a similar reaction as you to Scythe – it was too similar to Unwind, which was the first Shusterman novel I loved 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not even sure how to feel about this book, ha. I’ve only read one of his books, Scythe, it was good but I don’t know if he is for me? you know what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This has such an interesting and pretty creepy sounding concept! I’m really keen to check it out. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it too — didn’t think that you would considering how much you hated Dry 😂 Great review as always, Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

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